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'Nakakatawa naman': Palace denies Duterte using pandemic as excuse to declare martial law

President Rodrigo Duterte holds a meeting with members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on April 23, 2020. Toto Lozano, Presidential Photo

MANILA- Malacañang denied Monday allegations that President Rodrigo Duterte is just using the coronavirus pandemic to declare martial law.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque laughed off the allegations as he denied insinuations that Duterte is taking advantage of the pandemic.

"Naku, nakakatawa po iyan kasi hindi lang naman po sa Pilipinas mayroong pandemic," Roque said.

(That's funny because the pandemic is not just in the Philippines.)

"Walang pong pinagsasamantalahan ang Presidente dahil ang kanyang batayan naman ay Saligang Batas mismo,” he added.

(The President is not taking advantage of anything because his basis is the Constitution.)

Duterte warned Friday he "might declare martial law" if communist rebels continue their deadly attacks on state troops while the country struggled to contain the COVID-19 crisis.

"'Pag nagpatuloy kayo ng lawlessness ninyo, patay dito, patay doon, and it's happening all over the Philippines, maybe I will declare martial law because kayong mga NPA (New Peoples' Army) ang numero uno. Kinukuha ninyo iyong mga tulong sa tao, pati iyong supply, pagkain nila," said Duterte.
(If you continue your lawlessness, killings here and there, and it's happening all over the Philippines, maybe I will declare martial law because you NPAs are number one. You get the aid for the people, even their supplies, food.)

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) meanwhile said the President's threat was a "classic deflection tactic."

“Stop using the NPA to deflect attention from your failures,” the CPP said in a statement.